OK, so on Wednesday, Robert A. Hawkins, 19, took an SKS semi-automatic rifle that he stole from his step-father (I have also heard “AK-47-style rifle” and “AK-47″) into an Omaha, Nebraska shopping mall and murdered 8 people, injuring several more, and eventually killing himself.
Robert was a high school dropout from Papillion-La Vista High School who had had run ins with the law for drug and disorderly conduct charges. He suffered from depression, but was not on any medication. He had just lost his job at McDonald’s and his girlfriend.
Hawkins had been staying with Debora Maruca-Kovac, her husband and their 2 boys, whom he had befriended, after he was kicked out of his house. Maruca-Kovac had said that when he showed her the rifle the night before, she did not think that anything was wrong (um, a depressed kid has a gun – there’s something wrong with that). She said that he had a drinking and marijuana problem (but again, a gun didn’t arouse suspicion?). (And a side note - I am NOT blaming this on her – I just think that there were many signs here and that there were many opportunities where this could’ve been stopped, but the blame rests solely on Hawkins).
At about 1:00 P.M., Hawkins called Maruca-Kovac and he told her that he had left a note. When she questioned him, he said “It’s too late,” and hung up. Maruca-Kovac then called Hawkins mother.
“I’m a piece of sh*t,” said the note that he left. He also said that he was “sorry for everything” and didn’t want to be a burden anymore (mainly directed to his family). Well, you murdered 8 people – now you’re a bigger burden than you ever could’ve been before. You’re “sorry for everything” – apologies are only sincere if you actively try not to do whatever you did again – and when you apologize before and then go kill people, I doubt that you’re sorry at all. And here’s what really made me angry: “Now I’ll be famous.” That’s right – forever you’ll be remembered as the kid who murdered 8 people and then did the ultimate chickening out and killed yourself – you could’ve at least faced the punishment for what you did.
While he was in the care of the state, he cost Nebraska $265,000. Todd Landry, Health and Human Services director of the division of children and family services, said “This tragedy was not a failure of the system to provide appropriate, quality services for a youth who needed them. I believe all appropriate services were provided as long as they were needed.” I agree – we spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on the kid, yet he began to drink and do drugs – obviously, he didn’t have the will to get better.
The fact that I find different sources saying that the gun was different, I’m going to have a hard time talking about it. IF it was an AK-47, I don’t think his step-father should’ve owned it (at least not a functioning one) – as I’ve said numerous times, no civilian needs an automatic weapon (read here for further comments on guns http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/2007/11/26/supreme-court-to-hear-second-amendment-case/ or http://inkslwc.wordpress.com/2007/12/01/proof-that-gun-regulations-must-be-tighter-david-brockdorff-and-gail-pumphrey/). If it was an SKS semi-automatic, I think the father had a legitimate right to own the gun. Now – the fact that his step-son was able to steal it says that apparently he wasn’t keeping it protected enough. This kid never should have had access to a gun and his step-father should’ve known this. It should have been safely and securely locked away in a manner that kept Robert from accessing it.
But the majority of the blame lies with Robert Hawkins himself – even if you are depressed and suicidal – and “sorry” for what you were about to do – you didn’t have to kill anybody. He obviously knew it was wrong, so I’m not going to say that he’s off the hook due to depression. He knew it was wrong, and couldn’t handle the consequences of what he’d done, so he took the cheap and easy way out, leaving his friends and family with the sad reality that the last thing he did was murder 8 people.